A new report by the Wall Street Journal outlines just how much information the NSA is gathering and highlights the security operations here in Salt Lake in 2002. According to the article the NSA has the ability to monitor up to 75 % of the nation’s internet traffic, and that kind of monitoring was centered in Salt Lake around Olympic time.
It was just five months since the September 11th attacks and all eyes were on Salt Lake, literally.
National Security expert Tom Panuzio told ABC 4 Utah, “It was the largest security event ever performed inside the United States.”
According the WSJ report inside sources claim the NSA monitored the content of all email and text communications in Salt Lake City around the time of the Olympics.
“Only the fact of the call was monitored not the content of the call,” explained Panuzio. “They were monitoring which phone numbers were calling which phone numbers here in Salt Lake and which emails of interest were coming to persons of interest here in Salt Lake.”
Telecom companies worked with the NSA and handed the information over to the agency; sending large streams of internet traffic that were believed to contain foreign intelligence, but sources tell the WSJ the NSA also asked for information likely to include domestic communication. A move Panuzio says was legal under the Patriot Act.
“President Bush basically said put a ring of security around Salt Lake and make sure nothing happens to these games.”
People on the street were not happy to hear the news, but they weren’t surprised.
“We’re looking for terrorists, right folks?” asked Richard Nahum. “What the NSA does is create these Mt. Everests of information. These tremendous mountains at this center in Bluffdale are going to hold one-thousand, ten-thousand, hundred-thousand Everests of information. Now the hard pat is to sift through this stuff.”
“It’s such an invasion of privacy,” said Jared Vanaarle. “Is that totally against our constitution? It just seems that we have no law anymore.”